ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government on Thursday denied that US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel had 'threatened' aid cuts over the blocking of Nato supplies through Torkham.
During the weekly press briefing at the Foreign Office on Thursday, the official spokesperson said that the government has already “stated in clear terms that the reports that he [Hagel] issued any threats are not correct.”
“I am not aware from where those reports appeared in the media. These were misleading reports. The statements issued by Pentagon, the State department and the one by us were all very clear.”
On his visit to Pakistan, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel had warned Pakistani leaders that if they did not resolve protests stalling military shipments across the border into Afghanistan, it could be difficult to maintain political support in Washington for an aid programme that has sent billions of dollars to Islamabad.
Commenting about the overall US-Pakistan relationship in recent months where there have been some gaps being bridged while anger has mounted over drone strikes, the spokesperson said that “the overall state of Pakistan-US relations, I would say that it is on a positive trajectory.”
“As I indicated, the visit of the Prime Minister had laid a solid foundation. The two countries are now engaged at different levels and we hope that mutually beneficial relationship will continue to benefit the people of the two countries.”
However, in context of Hagel’s visit and topics including Haqqani network and drone strikes, the Foreign Office official said there are some issues on which there remains a difference of opinion between the two countries.
“In our bilateral contacts with the US, we exchange views on our respective view points. On various issues we agree and there is a shared desire to develop this relationship. Lately, two working groups have met and two more will be meeting soon followed by ministerial level discussions... On some issues, like drone strikes, there is a difference of opinion. Contacts like the visit of Secretary Chuck Hagel are opportunities to discuss these matters.”
The spokesperson said that the drone strikes were raised with Hagel. “The government has taken a clear stance on this issue and has raised it with the US government at every level. The US has its own views on it, but we believe that our view point is increasingly getting traction including in the international community.”
While the spokesperson excused himself for answering about any potential talks between the government and any political party on blockage of Nato supplies, he said that the supplies were continuing to pass through Ground Lines of Communications (GLOCs).
“As it is, the NATO supplies were continuing on the southern route. Our position has been that all such issues should be resolved peacefully and through talks.”
Pakistan supports meeting of NSAs
Asked about the stalled progress on meeting between the Director Generals of Military Operation of Pakistan and India over seeing respective borders along the Line of Control, the spokesperson said that the ceasefire has largely been respected
“Pursuant to the decision of the two Prime Ministers that the ceasefire on the LOC must be respected, the Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries established contact on the 25th and 29th of October and agreed to ensure that ceasefire on the LOC is not violated. Ever since, by and large ceasefire has been respected. There was also a contact between Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Force.”
On the proposal of contacts between the National Security Advisors from each country, the spokesperson said that it is part of the desire of the present government to address outstanding issues between the two countries and to find ways to improve relations. “We do hope that these positive proposals emanating from Pakistan would be sincerely reciprocated.”
With current spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry due to begin his next assignment soon, the foreign office unveiled the new spokesperson, Tasnim Aslam.
Aslam, who served as the spokesperson from 2005 to 2007, is being reassigned from her current post of Additional Secretary (Europe). Aslam has also served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Italy and Morocco.
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